The County Board is set to consider a set of projects that would upgrade sidewalks and improve a small park.
Of the four, three focus on pedestrian improvements with an eye toward walkability for Arlington Public Schools students in the Bluemont, Columbia Heights and Fairlington neighborhoods. The fourth would fund improvements to 11th Street Park in Clarendon.
These upgrades, at a cost of roughly $2 million in total, were given a thumbs up last December by Arlington’s Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee. This group identifies needed improvements such as sidewalks, street beautification, street lights and parks and recommends them to the County Board.
At the intersection of 6th Street N. and N. Edison Street in Bluemont, the committee proposes to widen some corners and build out the sidewalks as well as upgrade landscaping and accessible ramps.
“It’ll be very visible to cars that people are crossing,” project representative Nick Pastore said during the December meeting. “That will help slow the rate of speed of cars going around those corners.”
Drivers take these residential roads “at a pretty decent speed” to avoid N. George Mason Drive between N. Carlin Springs Road and Wilson Blvd, he said.
At the intersection of 12th Street S. and S. Scott Street in Columbia Heights, nearu Columbia Pike, NCAC is requesting $500,000 to conduct a feasibility study for improving the intersection by extending the street corners, and making improvements to the crosswalks, landscaping and accessible ramps.
“This improved crossing will help students walking from nearby S. Courthouse Road to Hoffman-Boston [Elementary School] safely cross a busy road,” said Kristin Haldeman, director of multimodal transportation planning for Arlington Public School, in a letter to the county.
She added that the extra curb space “will provide more room for students in the area who attend Gunston Middle School and Wakefield High School to wait for their bus at the intersection.”
Columbia Heights Civic Association member Sarah McKinley welcomed the project for the neighborhood of apartment buildings and condos, saying the committee has been criticized over the years for mostly benefitting single-family neighborhoods.
“Here’s an example of an NC project that can benefit both types of neighborhoods,” she said.
In Fairlington, the committee proposes a sidewalk, curb, and gutter along the north side of S. Abingdon Street between 31st Street S. and 31st Road S. — near the STEM Preschool and the former Fire Station 7.
Fairlington representative Ed Hilz said these changes would improve walking paths for students getting to Abingdon Elementary School.
“Currently, there’s a staircase that is not very convenient to negotiate for children,” he said.
“I think this park is heavily used so all these upgrades will be a tremendous benefit for the community,” project representative Alyssa Cannon said.
Money for the projects will come from the 2016 and 2018 Community Conservation bonds.
Images via Google Maps
An Arlington man is now facing charges after police say he threatened one of his neighbors with a gun in the midst of an argument over noise.
County police say they were called to a Columbia Heights apartment complex along the 1200 block of S. Courthouse Road to respond to the dispute around 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 22.
When officers arrived, they heard that 26-year-old Jason [Redacted] walked over to one of his neighbors’ apartments and was “irate that the victim was making noise inside his residence,” police said.
[Redacted] continued yelling for a while, but eventually returned to his own home. A short time later, “when the victim went to the suspect’s residence to apologize, the suspect opened the door and allegedly brandished a firearm at the victim.”
Police subsequently arrested [Redacted] and charged him with one count of brandishing a firearm. He’ll face a hearing on that charge on Feb. 19 in Arlington General District Court.
Full details from a county crime report:
BRANDISHING, 2018-12220100, 1200 block of S. Courthouse Road. At approximately 10:23 a.m. on December 22, police responded to the report of a brandishing. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was inside of his residence when he heard someone knocking on the door. The victim opened the door and encountered the suspect, who was irate that the victim was making noise inside his residence. The suspect continued to yell at the victim, but eventually returned to his residence. Shortly later, when the victim went to the suspect’s residence to apologize, the suspect opened the door and allegedly brandished a firearm at the victim. Jason [Redacted], 26, of Arlington, Va., was arrested and charged with Brandishing a Firearm.
And here are other highlights from the past two weeks of crime reports, including some we’ve already reported:
ROBBERY, 2018-12210017, 3000 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 1:31 a.m. on December 21, police were dispatched to the report of two shoplifters in custody. Upon arrival, it was determined that two males entered a business and began selecting merchandise. One male allegedly exited the store in possession of merchandise without paying. An employee then challenged the second suspect and became engaged in a physical altercation. The second suspect returned to the business and became engaged in the struggle, in which the employee was assaulted, resulting in minor injury. A bystander intervened and assisted with controlling the suspects until police arrival. Bernart Rivas, 19, of Alexandria, Va., was arrested and charged with Robbery. Petitions for Robbery were sought for the juvenile suspect.
ROBBERY, 2018-12210291, 300 block of S. Taylor Street. At approximately 9:49 p.m. on December 21, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim, who was working as a delivery driver at the time of the incident, exited his vehicle to make a delivery and was approached by a male suspect who brandished a firearm and demanded cash. The victim gave him an undisclosed amount of cash and the suspect fled the scene prior to police arrival. The victim was not injured. A K9 track was initiated, but yielded negative results. The suspect is described as a black male wearing dark clothing.
CARJACKING, 2018-12220035, 2600 block of Crystal Drive. At approximately 2:19 a.m. on December 22, police responded to the report of an armed carjacking just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was idling in his vehicle when a vehicle occupied four times pulled up behind him. Two male suspects exited the vehicle and approached the victim. One suspect brandished a firearm and one suspect brandished a knife and ordered the victim out of his car. The suspects fled in the victim’s vehicle prior to police arrival. Suspect One is described as a black male, approximately 5’5″-5’7″, with a thin build and short, black hair, wearing all black clothing. Suspect Two is described as a black male, approximately 5’5″-5’7″ and slightly taller than Suspect One, with a thin build and short, black hair, wearing all black clothing.
ROBBERY (late), 2018-12210224, 2100 block of 15th Street N. At approximately 5:45 p.m. on December 21, police were dispatched to the late report of a robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 5:00 p.m., an unknown male suspect entered a business and began to select merchandise and conceal it in a backpack. The employee confronted the suspect and instructed him to pay for the merchandise. The suspect attempted to force his way past the employee and a brief struggle ensued over the suspect’s backpack. The suspect brandished a knife and fled the store with the backpack of merchandise prior to police arrival. The suspect is described as a black male, approximately 22-25 years old, wearing a gray hat, a black jacket with a gray hood, a blue shirt, black shoes and black pants, carrying a black backpack. The investigation is ongoing.
BURGLARY (late), 2018-12210044, 900 block of N. Kenmore Street. At approximately 4:50 a.m. on December 21, police were dispatched to the late report of a burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 12:15 a.m. and 2:50 a.m., an unknown suspect(s) forced entry to a business, causing damage, and stole an undisclosed amount of cash. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.
ROBBERY, 2018-12230139, 1600 block of Crystal Drive. At approximately 5:02 p.m. on December 23, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery by force. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered a business and opened the cash register, taking an undisclosed amount of cash. An employee attempted to stop the suspect, but was pushed out of the way. The suspect fled on foot, prior to police arrival. The suspect is described as a black male, approximately 5’10”-6’0″, 220-230 lbs., with short curly red or orange hair, wearing white earbuds, light colored ripped jeans, and brown and white shoes. The investigation is ongoing.
BURGLARY, 2018-12230212, 4700 block of Dittmar Road. At approximately 9:59 p.m. on December 23, police were dispatched to the report of a possible trespasser. Upon arrival, it was determined that friends of the victim arrived at the victim’s residence while the victim was out of town and allegedly observed a large number of people inside the residence. A known suspect then exited the residence and left the scene, along with numerous other unknown subjects, prior to police arrival. Upon entry to the residence and further investigation, trash and a large mess inside were located inside, items of value were determined to be missing, numerous items were tampered with and the victim’s vehicles had been removed from the garage. With the assistance of the victim, officers on scene were able to make contact with the known suspect and he later returned to the residence. One of the victim’s vehicles was subsequently located nearby and a second vehicle was determined to be stolen. Devonta Corbet, 19, of Arlington, Va., was arrested and charged with Burglary, Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle and Grand Larceny: Motor Vehicle Theft.
BURGLARY, 2018-12260012, 1300 block of S. Joyce Street. At approximately 5:30 a.m. on December 26, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary just discovered. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 3:31 a.m. and 4:45 a.m., an unknown suspect forced entry to a business, causing damage and stole an undisclosed amount of cash and items of value. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.
ASSAULT ON LAW ENFORCEMENT 2018-12200073, 1100 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 10:13 a.m. on December 20, police were dispatched to the report of a disorderly female. Upon arrival, it was determined that the female suspect was yelling and acting disorderly inside the mall. As the officer approached the suspect, she grabbed the officer by the arm to pull him towards her, punched him with a closed fist and kicked him multiple times before she was taken into custody. The officer was not injured. The suspect refused to provide her personal information on-scene and while in booking. She was booked under the assumed name Jane Doe and charged with Assault & Battery on Police, and Failure to ID. She was held on no bond.
ROBBERY, 2018-12170009, 900 block of S. Buchanan Street. At approximately 1:05 a.m. on December 17, police were dispatched to the report of trouble unknown. Upon arrival, it was determined that the two victims were walking in the area when a known male suspect began following them. When the victims arrived at their destination, they asked the suspect to leave, however, the suspect threatened the victims and stole one victim’s cell phone before fleeing on foot prior to police arrival. A warrant for robbery was obtained for the suspect.
New research suggests that people living in Arlington’s poorest neighborhoods also have the fewest opportunities to lead healthy lives when compared to other communities throughout the entire D.C. region.
A study commissioned by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and conducted by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University show that many of Arlington’s most diverse neighborhoods with the lowest median incomes, such Columbia Heights, Nauck, Douglas Park and Buckingham, also scored the lowest in their measure of “health opportunities” across metropolitan Washington. The results closely mirror a previous study’s findings that people living in many of the same neighborhoods lack economic opportunities as well.
The researchers developed a “Healthy Places Index,” known as HPI, to evaluate not only health outcomes (like life expectancy) in each community, but also to understand whether people have the opportunity to be healthy based on where they live. That includes evaluations of factors like air quality, access to healthcare, housing affordability, the availability of public transportation and education levels.
The study applies that index to neighborhoods across the D.C. area, examining communities using granular Census tract designations to detect patterns within counties and cities in the region. Though the group found that the overall health of the 4.5 million people living in the District and its suburbs is “excellent” and “well above the national average,” they also uncovered “islands of disadvantage” within even wealthy localities like Arlington.
Even though some of the more affluent, higher educated areas of the county rate quite highly in the study’s measure of health opportunities, others rank among the lowest in all of Northern Virginia. The researchers identified the Columbia Heights neighborhood, just off Columbia Pike, as having one of the “the lowest HPI scores in the region,” noting that about 23 percent of adult residents there live in poverty. Buckingham, located along Route 50, also posted poor HPI scores, and the study noted that its residents have a median income of about $38,125 annually.
“The researchers found stark contrasts in socioeconomic and environmental conditions in Northern Virginia, often between neighborhoods separated by only a few miles or blocks,” the VCU academics wrote. “As was observed elsewhere in the region, people of color were disproportionately exposed to adverse living conditions.”
To illustrate those points, the study compared McLean — one of the wealthiest and whitest communities in the area — to Columbia Heights. The former ranked among the top-scoring neighborhoods in the region on the HPI, a far cry from Columbia Heights’ own performance.
“The population in the McLean tract was predominately white (70 percent) and Asian (19 percent), the population in Columbia Heights was largely Hispanic (51 percent) and black (19 percent),” the researchers wrote. “More than half was foreign-born, and most immigrated during 2000-2009.”
While the researchers identify a whole host of factors that could be contributing to such a split, they also stress that it is impossible to ignore the impact of “institutional racism” in understanding why such a divide exists between the races when it comes to health opportunities. They note that discriminatory housing and economic policies mean that people of color are “more likely to live in racially and ethnically segregated neighborhoods that suffer from decades of disinvestment,” which can have a whole host of negative consequences for their health.
“As a result, neighborhoods of color often lack access to affordable high-quality housing, stores that sell healthy foods, green space, clean air and clean water,” the researchers wrote. “These communities are often targets for fast food outlets, tobacco and alcohol marketing and liquor stores. These conditions affect not only the health, economic opportunity, and social mobility of people of color, but they also weaken the health and economy of the entire region.”
Accordingly, the study recommends approaches recognizing that history to officials sitting on the Council of Governments, as they try to craft a response across the region.
“Real solutions require targeted investments in marginalized neighborhoods to improve access to affordable, healthy housing as well as affordable transportation, child care, and health care (e.g., primary care, dental care, behavioral health services),” they wrote. “Everyone benefits from this approach, not only the residents in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, but also the entire regional economy. Economic and racial inequity saps the strength of the economy. Everyone pays a price for inaction: persistent poverty and social isolation fuel discontent, unhealthy behaviors (e.g., drug addiction), crime, and violence.”
Officers were dispatched shortly before 1:30 a.m. on Friday, July 25 for a report of a hoodie-wearing man staring in at the female resident. When she closed the door, he fled.
More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:
PEEPING, 2018-07250019, 2900 block of 16th Road S. At approximately 1:23 a.m. on July 25, police were dispatched to the report of a peeping just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim awoke to an unknown male suspect looking into her residence through a slightly ajar door. When the victim noticed the suspect and shut the door fully, the suspect fled. The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 6’3″, with a slim build, with brown eyebrows, wearing dark framed glasses and a dark gray hoodie with the hood up. The investigation is ongoing.
More highlights from this week’s crime report, including some that we’ve already reported, are below.
As temperatures have climbed past the 90s over the past few days, one apartment complex just off Columbia Pike hasn’t been able to turn on the air — and that has some residents steamed.
Staff at the Dominion Towers Apartments (1201 S. Courthouse Road) were hoping to switch on the air conditioning system this past Thursday (May 3), giving people living in the building’s 330 units their first chance to cool down their homes for the year.
But senior property manager Christle Tate told ARLnow that the system experienced some sort of malfunction, and now she’s waiting on a contractor to work with the A/C’s manufacturer to find a fix for her overheated residents.
“We’re sitting in limbo, just like they are,” Tate said. “I’d never want anybody to sit through this… but, truth be told, we don’t have an answer right now.”
Tate suspects that the problem stems from the system’s “chiller board,” but she says has no idea when the contractor working on the A/C might be able to get it fixed.
“It’s not anything we’re doing on our end to hold up the process,” Tate said.
She says that even executives with the company that owns and manages the building — Alexandria-based Capital Investment Advisors — are in the dark about when the system might work again. Officials at the company did not immediately return requests for comment.
That sort of uncertainty is quite troubling for people living in Dominion Towers, like Jim Eisele, a resident since 2011.
He says the past weekend’s at-times sweltering temperatures made his apartment unbearable without any air conditioning, but he’s even more frustrated with the way the building’s management has responded to the incident.
“The communication has been terrible from when they took over managing the building,” Eisele said. “But obviously that’s more severe when it affects the air conditioning.”
Tate stressed that management has sent out several emails updating residents on the status of the system, and she emphasized that’s as dismayed as anyone about the outage, particularly because she’s concerned about the heat’s impact on many of the building’s older occupants.
But she also conceded that there’s little she can tell Dominion Towers residents except: “Be patient.”
“My residents here are not used to me not having an answer to something,” Tate said. “This is the first time I truly don’t know.”
Photo via Google Maps
Robbery Foiled By Lack of Cash — An attempted armed robbery in Arlington’s Columbia Heights neighborhood was foiled when the would-be victims told the knife-wielding robber that they did not have any money. “When the victims advised they did not have any cash, the suspect fled the scene,” said a crime report. [Arlington County]
Average Home Price Exceeds $1 Million — The average sale price of a single-family home in Arlington in June rose 2.7 percent to $1,007,044. Condo and townhouse prices, however, fell. [InsideNova]
Texas Lawmaker Wants Flight from DCA — A Texas Congressman has proposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would permit direct flights from Reagan National Airport to San Antonio, which is outside DCA’s federally-set perimeter. [Washington Post]
Arlington Hosting Youth Baseball Tourney — Arlington will host the Babe Ruth state baseball tournament for 13-year-olds this weekend, at Barcroft Park and Wakefield High School, and a local team is in the tournament. Reports the Sun Gazette: “The opening ceremony will take place just before the host Arlington All-Stars take the field against Augusta at 7 p.m. on July 13 at Barcroft Park.” [InsideNova]
On Saturday morning, police found “numerous vehicles” in the East Falls Church area with tires slashed and body panels “keyed.”
The vandalism was centered around the 2400 block of N. Sycamore Street, near Bishop O’Connell High School.
From an ACPD crime report:
DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY, 160702013, 2400 block of N. Sycamore Street. At approximately 8:30 a.m. on July 2, an officer responded to the listed address for the report of a destruction of property to a vehicle. Numerous vehicles in the area had their tires slashed and were keyed. There is no suspect description.
Also on Saturday morning, police investigated a series of vehicle break-ins in the Penrose and Columbia Heights neighborhoods around Columbia Pike. In total, seven unlocked vehicles were broken into but only two car owners reported that items had stolen.
LARCENY FROM AUTO, 160702012, 1600 block of S. Barton Street. At approximately 8:00 a.m. on July 2, an officer responded to the listed address for the report of items stolen out of an unlocked vehicle. Another officer canvassed the area and discovered two other unlocked vehicles that had been entered but nothing was stolen. There is no suspect description.
TAMPERING WITH AUTO, 160702016, 1800 block of S. 9th Street. At approximately 8:45 a.m.on July 2, an officer responded to the listed address for the report of a tampering with auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that someone had entered an unlocked car and stole items of value. Officers canvassed the area and discovered three other unlocked vehicles that had been rummaged through but nothing was taken. There is no suspect description.
A rare white or albino squirrel was spotted near Columbia Pike this week.
Reader Joan O’Keefe sent along the above photo, showing the squirrel from a distance on 12th Street S. near S. Cleveland Street, in the Columbia Heights neighborhood, two blocks from Columbia Pike.
“The mailman said there’s a big family of them somewhere on 16th S.,” O’Keefe said. “Too bad it is a dark, drizzly day so the photo really doesn’t show its true white coloring, but you can get an idea by comparing the squirrel to the yellow in the grass. I don’t know if these are common in Arlington, but I have lived here since 1979 and I never saw another white squirrel. Solid black squirrels, yes, but white, possibly albino, never.”
We asked Arlington County Natural Resources Manager Alonso Abugattas about it.
“We have had a couple reports this year about the white squirrels. White squirrels, and specially albinos are very unusual,” he said.
“Black squirrels are fairly common due to the introduction of 18 black squirrels from a Canadian colony at the National Zoo during Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency, not so much white ones,” Abugattas explained. “White squirrels are much rarer since their coat color makes them stand out and become easier prey… Albinos with their pink eyes, because their eye sight is also compromised, are even rarer.
I’ve only seen a couple of white squirrels in my life personally. So they’re rare in our area and all over for sure, but not unheard of. With few predators and maybe some help from folks feeding it, it looks like it will make it fine and be something the neighborhood may find a neat backyard critter.
I’m not sure about a colony of them (yet anyways), we’ve certainly had white squirrels reported to us. It is possible that that recessive gene, since there are no real predator pressures, could be carried on like the black genes were and we end up with a local colony someday like the ones previously mentioned.
The incident happened around 10:45 p.m. Monday, on the 2700 block of 16th Street S. Police say a pizza delivery driver — a spokeswoman declined to say from which company — was delivering an order on the street but didn’t have an exact address.
Three women in their 20s, who were wearing dark clothing, flagged the driver down and said they ordered the pizza. Then, according to a police report, they pepper sprayed the driver and ran off with two pizzas.
So far, police do not have any suspects or specific suspect descriptions.
(Updated on Aug. 27 at 10:50 a.m.) Might a monorail-like system be the solution to Columbia Pike’s transit woes?
The Columbia Heights Civic Association is holding a meeting on Sept. 28 to discuss JPods, a transit system that uses suspended railcars, as a possible solution for Columbia Pike in light of the cancelled streetcar.
“We’re excited about this possibility,” said Sarah McKinley, one of the Columbia Heights Civic Association Board members.
The owner of JPods, Bill James, has looked at the Pike and thinks it is a good location for the gondola-like system, McKinley said.
JPod users would get into a pod at a station and then program in an address for where he or she wants to go.
“Think of it like a chauffeured car,” James said.
There could be several hundred to 1,000 pods on the Columbia Pike network. There is a possibility of turning the transit system into a grid, with JPods running from Columbia Pike to Metro stations and other parts of Northern Virginia, he said.
The solar-powered pod system would be privately funded, according to James. The JPods website lists the average cost for installing a network as $10 million, though there’s no word on how much it might cost to construct along the Pike.
Before the project was canceled, the cost of the five mile Columbia Pike streetcar line was estimated at $358 million.
If JPods were approved for Arlington, a network could be built along the Pike in a year, James said.
“[With JPods] you’ll be able to get around most cities like [you can in] New York, without cars,” he said.
Arlington County has been “made aware” of the JPods system, said Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet.
“It’s too early to comment on it because we have not received any detailed technical or cost information that can be evaluated,” he said. “The JPod information we have seen says it would not require any public funding.”
Arlington County does not expect to decide on an alternative transit plan for the Pike until next year.
Someone smashed a police cruiser’s windshield in the Columbia Heights neighborhood last Thursday.
The incident happened around lunchtime. From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
VANDALISM, 10/24/13, 1000 block of S. Cleveland Street. Between 12:40 pm on October 24 to 1:00 pm October 24, a police cruiser’s windshield was shattered with a piece of concrete while parked on S. Cleveland Street. The investigation is ongoing.
Early this morning, a man with “bulging eyes” was seen masturbating in front of a Virginia Square apartment building.
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 10/31/13, 900 block of N. Pollard Street. On October 31 at 3:03am, a man was seen masturbating in front of an apartment building by the concierge. When police arrived, the man was gone. Officers searched the area, but were unable to locate the suspect. The suspect is described as a black or possibly Middle Eastern male in his 20’s – 30’s, “bulging eyes”, who was bald and possibly had facial hair. At the time of the incident the suspect was wearing a black coat.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.